2012 is officially Lyme Disease Awareness Year in Loudoun County, the Board of Supervisors unanimously proclaimed Tuesday night.
Supervisor Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge), collaborating with colleagues Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin) and Ken Reid (R-Leesburg), initated the awareness campagin, which includes a “10 Point Action Plan” to mitigate Lyme Disease in Loudoun County in “an effort to bring this health crisis to the forefront.”
According to Clarke, Higgins and Reid’s proposal, in 2011, there were 261 reported cases of Lyme Disease in Loudoun County. In 2010, 223 cases were reported, representing approximately 18 percent of the cases reported in Virginia that year.
The 10 points include:
1) Create a Lyme Disease Commission, appointed by the Board of Supervisors and made up of Loudoun citizens and health care professionals with an acute interest and expertise in Lyme disease prevention and education. This group will be charged with implementing the 10 Point Plan with the assistance of county staff as well as enlisting the help of citizens and organizations whose focus is already on Lyme disease.
2) Create a Lyme survey, as a follow up to the 2006 Lyme Disease in Loudoun County survey, to determine the current key risk factors for contracting Lyme disease as well as any other relevant statistics that will enable a better determination of where work and funding should be directed.
3) Add a high-profile link to the front page of the Loudoun County website that will direct viewers to the County’s web page which contains comprehensive information on Lyme disease prevention and treatment.
4) Develop a set of educational materials targeting different age groups, including elementary schools. Work with Loudoun County Public Schools to provide students with educational materials that can be disbursed through their health classes as well as consider sending out information on Lyme in children’s backpacks, as has previously been done.
Suggest having a contest for school-aged children to create a tag-line (for example, “It’s Time to Know about Lyme”) and a logo for this effort.
5) Organize a series of Lyme Education Forums within the County that include a panel of experts that can field questions from the public regarding Lyme, provide educational materials to the public as well as help facilitate the formation of Lyme support groups in underserved geographic areas of the county.
6) Work with the local newspapers to place a series of monthly articles concerning Lyme once a month for the first year, with quarterly articles thereafter. These articles would keep the public up-to-date with advances in prevention and treatment, inform citizens of new resources that are available to them, as well as publish a spraying schedule for public parks.
7) Establish a list of doctors that specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of Lyme disease and provide this information on the County’s Lyme webpage in addition to any new educational materials.
8) Develop information for homeowners on the costs and benefits of spraying their yards for ticks.
9) Provide a Lyme education awareness briefing to all children enrolled in Parks and Recreation outdoor programs. There are approximately 10,000 children enrolled in these outdoor recreation camps.
10) Study the cost and feasibility of implementing two types of insecticide applications that will immediately begin to mitigate the spread of Lyme disease in Loudoun: spraying county-owned properties and licensing and placement of four-poster deer feeders on private and/or public property. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that broadcast spraying of areas of concern once a year, reduces the tick population by 65 percent.
10a) Spraying county-owned property: In addition to studying the cost and feasibility of spraying county-owned properties, immediately begin a pilot program that targets six western parks that have been identified and selected based upon their small to moderate sizes, geographic locations, and logistical ease of spraying. The suggested
Lucketts Community Park
Mickie Gordon Memorial Park
Nell Boone Park
Philip Bolen Memorial Park
10b) Four poster deer feeders: Work with the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) to study the feasibility of developing a county pilot program for the issuance of permits for the application of acaricides to deer via four-poster devices for the purpose of controlling the tick population and reducing the spread of tick-borne Lyme disease. This program has already been initiated by the Executive Director of DGIF as a follow-up from legislation introduced during the General Assembly session. The program should explore the cost, feasibility, and safety of placing four-post feeders on rural county owned property in addition to assisting private citizens in obtaining and legally gaining permits to safely locate them on their own property. The ‘4-Poster’ device is specifically designed to kill species of ticks that feed on white-tailed deer and especially those for which white-tailed deer are keystone hosts for adult ticks. As deer feed on the bait, the design of the device forces them to rub against pesticide-impregnated applicator rollers. The rollers, in turn, apply acaricides to their ears, heads, necks, and shoulders where roughly 90% of feeding adult ticks are attached. Through grooming, the deer also transfer the acaricides to other parts of the body. Studies have shown that use of four-poster technology has resulted in the control of 92 of the 98% of free-living tick populations in areas around the devices after three years of use.
Loudoun launches campaign against Lyme disease
By Caitlin Gibson, Monday, March 26, 1:24 PM
Loudoun County is fighting back against the rising threat of Lyme disease.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors voted to declare 2012 “Lyme Disease Awareness Year” in Loudoun. The supervisors also created a nine-member Lyme Disease Commission, made up of board-appointed county residents and health-care professionals, to focus on Lyme disease prevention and education efforts.
Leesburg resident Christina Guida was one of more than a dozen residents who spoke to the supervisors about the effects of Lyme disease at a public hearing before the vote. Guida, who said she has suffered from chronic Lyme disease for years, told the board that the illness has affected her life “physically, emotionally, financially.”
She described the psychological toll of the disease on patients.
“A lot of us live in fear, fear of just walking in grass, fear of owning a dog. I don’t go camping anymore. I don’t go hiking,” Guida said. “I see the numbers increasing around me. . . . I’m fearful for all residents in this county.”
Loudoun has one of the highest rates of Lyme disease infection in the United States, and the highest rate in Virginia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than 250 confirmed cases of Lyme disease were reported in Loudoun last year, but the number of infections might be much higher, because many cases go unrecognized or misdiagnosed, county officials and medical experts said.
The first sign of infection, which is caused by bacteria that can be transmitted when people are bitten by an infected tick, is often a “bull’s-eye” rash at the site of the bite. Some patients might also experience flulike symptoms such as fever, headache, fatigue and muscle or joint pain in the weeks after infection. Without prompt diagnosis and treatment with
antibiotics, other chronic complications can eventually develop, including heart problems, co-infections, joint pain and nervous system disorders.
The illness is particularly prevalent in rural and suburban areas where rodents, deer and other animals are likely to transfer the parasites to people. Loudoun, with an abundance of parks and grassy areas neighbored by a growing number of residents, has become a prime spot for the disease.
At the public hearing Tuesday, a few speakers expressed concern about the environmental effects of methods used to kill infected ticks, including insecticide sprays and deer feeders that apply a pesticide to the ears, heads, necks and shoulders of deer as they feed. But the majority of residents who addressed the board were overwhelmingly in support of Loudoun’s proposed 10-point action plan to fight the spread of the disease.
David Stewart, a physician from Round Hill, said he was pleased to see the board addressing the issue. He also urged the supervisors to consider their actions carefully, particularly with important choices such as which insecticide to use.
“I support the proposal set forth; however, I urge you to be deliberate, transparent and inclusive of those of us who have been affected by Lyme,” he said.
Most of the items on the proposed action plan, which includes a number of Lyme disease prevention and education outreach initiatives, will first be reviewed by the county’s Finance, Government Services and Operations Committee. But supervisors did take immediate action on other aspects of the campaign: A link was placed prominently on the home page of the county Web site to direct visitors to information about Lyme disease, and the county will solicit bids to apply insecticide sprays at several county-owned parks to help reduce the tick population this spring.
According to the board’s direction, the cost of the spraying will not exceed $20,000. Spraying is planned for Franklin Park, Woodgrove Park, Lucketts Community Park, Ashburn Park, Conklin Park, Phil Bolen Park, Neil Boone Park, Mickie Gordon Memorial Park and Claude Moore Park.
Supervisor Geary Higgins (R-Catoctin), who co-sponsored the Lyme disease plan along with Vice Chairman Janet Clarke (R-Blue Ridge) and Supervisor Kenneth “Ken” Reid (R-Leesburg), said he found that Lyme disease was a critical issue for many voters during his campaign last year.
“Lyme was an issue that was spoken to me about as often as any other issue that we dealt with,” he said. “That’s how serious it is.”
Beyond the need to protect the health of Loudoun residents, Reid said, there could also be economic consequences if the county continues to be known as a hotbed for Lyme disease.
“If we don’t tackle this, we’re going to have people who are going to be afraid to come here,” he said. “This has been neglected for way too long.”
Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), the last to express his support for the plan before the board unanimously approved the motion, joked that he had been “jinxed” by the timing of the Lyme disease campaign: When he woke up Tuesday morning, he found he had been bitten by a tick, he said.
“Now that little area has a bull’s-eye to it,” he said. “So I’ll be supporting this.”
Information about Lyme disease can be found at www.loudoun.
gov/lyme and at www.cdc.gov.
To learn about the second annual Loudoun Lyme 5K race, which will be May 6 at the National Conference Center in Lansdowne, go to www.loudounlyme.org.
Thanks to everyone that came out to the Loudoun Lyme 5K Walk/Run to support the cause and raise awareness about Lyme Disease! With several hundred participants, the event was a huge success! We are so glad not only to have raised money and awareness, but also to have provided an forum for those affected to talk with others about their experiences with Lyme Disease. Thanks again to everyone who participated! It was great to see such immense and spirited support from the Loudoun Community!